Mickey Karbal is not your typical college senior. While studying Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, he produces and DJs as The Interns (aptly named after interning for Flosstradamus throughout 2008 and 2009). Additionally, he has collaborated with thefaded to comprise new duo, FREE DRINKZ. UPC got the chance to see Mickey in action and discuss DJ life from the perspective of a college student. Check out our exclusive interview below and be sure to come to the UPC x Rockstar Energy Presents: Certified Dope showcase in Champaign this Saturday to see him perform!


UPC: How did you get started?

Mickey: My brother got an illegal copy of Fruity Loops in like ’08 and told me about Daft Punk, who I thought at the time were a punk band. I listened to “Digital Love” and was sold. For the next year I probably invested 2-to-5 hours per night navigating Fruity Loops.

UPC: Did you ever think this what what you’d be doing at this point in your life?

Mickey: Yeah and no. There are so many trying moments when you just want to say fuck it and dramatically drop the mic like Eminem in 8-Mile, but things start coming around… And even if no one was digging my music a year ago, I still made it because that’s just what I wanted to do.

UPC: Your Soundcloud classifies your music as “trap-ezoid,” can you define that for us:

Mickey: TRAP-EZOID is my favorite shape. Shout out to Geometry.

UPC: Is that name something you’re looking to extend to the entire music community?

Mickey: No, only to my fellow mathletes.

UPC: What would you say sets your music apart from the rest?

Mickey: Its hard to stand out amongst any over-saturated market. I think being tasteful is super important… Like, yeah anyone can flip “Chunk Up The Deuce” by Paul Wall by taking his vocal cut and throw 8-0-8’s over it… that’s cool, but I really chopped up the melodies, added timpani’s, layered some of my own melodies and etc. The point is to stand out; I think you need to put in the work. Some people can get away with making shit pop in a two-hour Abelton session. But, my tracks probably take anywhere from 12-32 hours in total to finish, which I think induces creativity… The longer I let myself breathe and come back to the track with fresh ears, the more creativity I have.

UPC: What has been the most satisfying or gratifying moment of your career?

Mickey: Generally, just watching people get the fuck down to a song that I made… That’s always amazing to watch.

UPC: Tell me a little about how you go about starting a new project:

Mickey: Drink a Redull, eat a Reese’s or straight up peanut butter, and look through my sample pack that is filled with over 50,000 samples – which I think is relatively small. I’ll find a synth I really like, play with melodies, find some vocal chops, fit em’ over the synth, add some drums = gold. I’ve been trying to jump around tempos lately because trap is generally in the 140-160 beat range, and I need to spur some new creativity… 100-BPM is where it’s at!

UPC: How would you define success?

Mickey: 100,000 downloads. [Laughing]

UPC: Let’s say you find yourselves in a rut, what’s your next move?

Mickey: Take a break, one-hour, five-hours, two-days, whatever is needed… then come back and it’s probably fixed. Otherwise I just cry – hash tag tears.

UPC: If I were to lock you in your studio for 24 hours right now, what (other than your equipment) would you absolutely need?

Mickey: Blanket, pizza, Redbull, peanut-butter, Jillian Micheals workout tape.

UPC: What was the best life advice you’ve ever gotten?

Mickey: JUST DO YOU.